Vital Signs | KERA News

Vital Signs

Vital Signs is a weekly consumer health chat featuring leading North Texas medical figures. Hosted by Sam Baker, topics range from flu to skin cancer to exactly what a New Year’s cocktail does to your body.

Listen every Monday at 8:22 a.m. on KERA 90.1 FM.

Ways to Connect

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A recently published study suggests controlling or preventing risk factors like hypertension may limit or delay brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of age-related neurological deterioration. Dr. Karen Rodrigue of the UT Dallas Center for Vital Longevity talked about this in this edition of Vital Signs. She said the medical profession’s been exploring the idea of vascular dementia for decades.

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It’s estimated more than 159-thousand people will die of lung cancer in 2013. The National Lung Cancer Partnership has a announced a new goal to double the five-year survival rate of the disease by 2022. It’s currently 16 percent. Dr. Joan Schiller, chief of the Hematology and Oncology Department of  UT Southwestern Medical Center, is also President of the Partnership. In this week’s “Vital Signs”, Dr. Schiller explained why survival rates are so low.

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It’s one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., but colon cancer's highly preventable if caught early with screening. Yet, for whatever reason, many are apprehensive about colonoscopy - an exam of the colon and rectum. One alternative is virtual colonoscopy. It requires the same laxative and low residue diet beforehand as the conventional procedure. But in this week’s Vital Signs, Dr. Cecelia Brewington of UT Southwestern Medical Center says virtual colonoscopy is less invasive, faster and there’s no sedation.

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It’s been rare in Texas, but the latest so-called superbug resistant to antibiotics has hit more than 200 hospitals across the U-S in a six month period last year.  In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Bill Sutker, chief of infectious diseases of Baylor University Medical Center, explains why  CRE is part of a larger, growing problem.

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If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, blue light from various sources – including electronic devices -- might be a problem. Studies suggest even low levels of blue light can delay secretions in the body of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles. In this edition of Vital Signs, the scoop on blue light from sleep specialist Dr. John Herman, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

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Aside from the expense and discomfort, the annoying part of getting a dental crown is the time involved – usually two separate visits to complete the process. Two different companies – one of them in North Texas – have created systems using 3D imaging to reduce the crown procedure to one visit total.

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A new government-funded study published in the online journal Neurology concluded the number of people in the U.S. with Alzheimer's Disease could almost triple by 2050 without some form of prevention or cure. In this week’s Vital Signs, Dr. Bassem Elsawy, a geriatric specialist at Methodist Charlton Medical Center, discusses the reasons why and whether society's prepared for the increase.

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An estimated one in five young people in the U.S. suffers from a diagnosable, treatable mental illness. Yet, most get little or no help because of we don’t recognize the signs and symptoms. Vanita Halliburton is working to change that through a foundation named after her son. She explained why and talked about the signs of mental illness in young people in this edition of “Vital Signs”.

Lupus: A Cruel Mystery

Feb 11, 2013
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Some call it the cruel mystery. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can strike any part of the body, but the wide range of symptoms can be easily mistaken for something else. In this segment of KERA’s Vital Signs, Tessie Holloway, president of the Lupus Foundation of America’s North Texas chapter, discusses the disease and the need for greater awareness.

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Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer found  in various brand-name products you may have at home – Tylenol, NyQuil or prescription drugs like Vicodin or Percocet. But using too much acetaminophen – and some people do – can lead to liver damage. Dr. Shannan Tujios of  UT Southwestern Medical Center talks about the dangers in this week’s edition of “Vital Signs.”

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A health disparity from the 90s holds true: A recent study found African Americans are still at higher risk to die from a heart attack or heart failure than Whites. In this edition of “Vital Signs,” Dr. Tim Isaac, a cardiologist with Methodist Charlton Medical Center talked about the reasons why.

4 Good Ways To Get Rid Of Unused Medication

Jan 7, 2013
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Disposing of unused prescription drugs the wrong way can have serious consequences. Jeena Connor, Director of Pharmacy Services at Methodist Charlton Medical Center, explains in this segment of Vital Signs.

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As we prepare to pop the cork on champagne to welcome the New Year, Bryan Wasson, an internal medicine specialist at Baylor Medical Center in Irving, breaks down the effect of alcohol on the body.

A recent study found even light to moderate smoking (one to 12 cigarettes a day) can increase the risk in women of sudden cardiac death. SCD causes about 325,000 adult deaths in the U.S., and is  responsible for half of all heart disease deaths. In this segment of Vital Signs, Dr. Amir Choudhry, a cardiologist with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano, explains sudden cardiac death.

5 Key Questions In The Race Against Flu

Dec 12, 2012
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Health officials say get a flu shot if you haven’t done so. The virus arrived early, hitting Texas and four other southern states harder than other regions. In this segment of Vital Signs, Dr. Shantala Samart, an infectious disease specialist with Methodist Charlton Medical Center, talks about the flu strains being seen in Texas and why the virus showed up early.

Hidden Calories In Alcoholic Drinks

Dec 3, 2012
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Holiday meals and snacks pack on the pounds if you’re not careful, but so can drinking. In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Bradley Jones with Baylor Medical Center Irving tells how and why alcohol can add to your waistline.

Blood Donations: The Gift That Keeps Giving

Nov 26, 2012
Carter Blood Care

During the holidays when thoughts turn to gift giving, organizations like American Red Cross and Carter Blood Care tend to see fewer donations. Dr. Lesley Kresie, Carter's medical director of laboratory services, explains why in this week’s segment of “Vital Signs.”

Six Facts About How Blood Donations Are Used:

Whole blood, kept cool in refrigerators, can be transfused for 21 days after the donation.

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Scientists studying cancer cells in humans commonly transplant them to grow human tumors in mice. It’s called a xenograft.  Problem is the tumors don’t always grow in mice as they would in patients. But scientists at U-T Southwestern Medical Center have developed a xenograft model that consistently works in the study of skin cancer. Dr. Sean Morrison authored a study on this subject and talks about it in this week’s edition of KERA's Vital Signs.

Medical City

An alternative for patients who can’t survive open heart surgery replaces the aortic valve without opening the chest or heart. Medical City recently became the first in the country to perform the procedure, just days after it received FDA approval. 

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You might think your home is safe for a small child. But you’d be surprised at the dangers to children lurking inside. 

Paul Huljich had it all. His organic foods business brought him wealth and luxury. But he lost it all after a nervous breakdown and a bipolar diagnosis.

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Results of a new study of nearly six thousand men with prostate cancer indicate those treated either with surgery or radiation could benefit from taking aspirin regularly. In a KERA Health Checkup, Sam Baker talks with Dr. Kevin Choe of U.T. Southwestern Medical Center about the study.

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Like the U.S. overall, Texas is seeing more cases of pertussis or whooping cough – nearly 1100 people have come down with it this year. Six have died. 

Doctors at Heart Hospital in Plano have combined two technologies in a new approach to treating atrial fibrillation. It’s the most common form of irregular heart beat and affects three to five million Americans. Dr. J. Brian DeVille talked about this in a KERA Health Checkup.

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In this KERA Health Checkup, a refresher course on cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR. Two years ago, guidelines for the procedure changed to put emphasis on chest compressions. Doreen Riccelli of Lake Pointe Medical Center in Rowlett explains.

As student athletes begin a new school year, players, staff and parents need to be mindful of staph infections.  They’re the result of bacteria we all have on our skin and in nasal passages. But the director of primary care sports medicine at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center says contact sports raise the potential for an infection. Dr. Robert Dimeff explains in this KERA Health Checkup.

Too much time in the sun can be dangerous if you’re not careful – and well beyond a sunburn. The National Cancer Institute says more than a million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every year. But dermatologist Dornechia Carter says skin cancer is often curable if it’s caught early. She talked with Sam Baker about skin cancer in this KERA Health Checkup.

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Many in the medical community favor breastfeeding for the physical benefits it offers both mother and child. But not every woman can do so. In this KERA Health Checkup, Kathy Chaney, a nurse and lactation consultant at Baylor University Medical Center, talks about alternatives for women who can’t or should not breastfeed.

UT Southwestern Medical Center

With Type-2 diabetes, the body’s ability to produce needed insulin declines. Doctors often recommend lifestyle changes and the drug metformin after an early diagnosis. But an eight year study by U.T. Southwestern Medical Center has found early intensive treatment of insulin and a drug regimen may be a better strategy. In a KERA Health Checkup, the author of the study, Dr. Ildiko Lingvay, talks about the results.

US EPA

Air pollution watches are common this time of year. They’ve been around since 2000, but rarely does anyone say what they mean. In a KERA Health Checkup, Robert Kent, Director of Environmental Programs for the North Texas Commission, explains the alerts are a warning about ozone in the North Texas air.

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